Mission First, People Always

Michael McNulty is the former Global Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Venture Capital-funded Rotation Medical, headquartered in Plymouth, MN. The company was acquired for $210 million in December 2017 by Smith & Nephew, after only 3.5 years of commercialization in the United States. Mike’s new role is serving as the Smith & Nephew’s Global Senior Director of the newly formed Global Biologics Division, within the Sports Medicine organization. This month, CEO Today had the privilege to catch up with him and discuss his new role within the newly created division, his goals for its future development and the ways AI is changing the Medical Devices sector.


What inspired you to pursue a career in sales?

My parents have been the most influential role models in my life. My mother worked at Cook Vascular Company (founded and led by legendary medical device inventor and entrepreneurial Bill Cook) for many years and always encouraged me to pursue a sales career in medical devices. My father owned a tree nursery. He taught me many lessons on how to treat customers ‘the right way’ by always under promising and trying to over deliver. I greatly admired both their encouragement and example, ultimately leading me to a sales career after completing my military service as an Army Armor/Cavalry Officer. My parents’ advice, coupled with my passion to compete and win were the main driving forces for my decision to begin a career in sales. It’s the best decision I could have made and has led me to work with so many incredibly talented people. I am lucky to have interacted with many wonderful people that truly want to help patients. Some people may think sales and meaningful work do not go hand in hand, but for me they do. I have always believed in the saying, “the more you do for others the more you will ultimately be rewarded.”  Eight years ago, I pivoted from leading sales teams for large companies to Venture Capital backed ones. I enjoy creating the team from scratch. It is very rewarding to then lead the sales, marketing, customer service and market development teams to the singular goal of penetrating a market, driving adoption and ultimately delivering a successful exit to the investors and employees. I’m telling you, there is nothing like it!

After Rotation Medical was acquired by Smith & Nephew in December 2017, you are now leading the newly created Global Biologic Division—how has this been going thus far?  What are some of the challenges that you’ve been faced with?

Well, first, it has been very humbling to say the least. Being acquired by such a respected global market leader such as Smith & Nephew confirms and validates our hard work and determination in penetrating this market. We have been transitioning into the much larger Smith & Nephew for the past several months. Let me say, they have been simply terrific!  They retained our entire commercial team and have treated us with great hospitality and respect. They share our passion for treating people the ‘right way’. I learned a phrase during my time as an Army officer in the United States Military – “mission first, people always.”  It has resonated with me my entire career and Smith & Nephew certainly embraces the same mantra. We set high standards. We expect to be the best, always. However, we will not mistreat or abuse our employees in order to complete the mission and succeed. In other words, you truly can have both. You can win but still “take good care” of your people. Regarding the second question around challenges—the greatest challenge thus far has been keeping up with the hyper-growth and demand post-acquisition!  The Regeneten Bio-Inductive Implant is changing the standard of care in the rotator cuff market. Patient outcomes continue to impress the surgeons and staff that have adopted the technology. We have been working tirelessly with our business partners in customer service, marketing and manufacturing to ensure that this transformational technology continues to be made available to serve the ever growing demand. It has been a relatively seamless transition thus far.


What’s your key strategy for the development of the Division?

We are determined to not disrupt the astronomical sales growth and adoption of the Regeneten product post acquisition. The biologics team will remain laser focused on serving existing, as well as new users. Eventually, the entire Smith & Nephew sales team will sell this in conjunction with many other complimentary products that ultimately will help drive even greater awareness and adoption. The sports med line has great synergy in providing multiple solutions for the wide variety of patient related needs. Finally, we are committed to continuing to build and expand the product’s clinical evidence. We will continue to work in conjunction with our Professional Education and Clinical Research partners to educate surgeons and expand research projects. This product has been studied extensively to include the current REBUILD registry. The study is collecting important patient related outcomes data such as pain, opioid usage, time in a sling and time to return to work/normal activity. The results from this study are very promising will be released in the near future.


What goals are you currently working towards with the company and what is your particular vision for the future of its Global Biologic Division?

Our goals are clear and aligned throughout the organization. We want to transition and integrate the biologics team into the larger Smith & Nephew Corporation as quickly as possible. We have made enormous strides in a very short amount of time and are pleased with our progress. Ultimately, this disruptive technology will be a part of the impressive and more comprehensive sports medicine portfolio of products. The teams have already started to collaborate to ensure that more surgeons are trained and comfortable using the first to market implant. Our vision is simple. We want to help get this innovative technology to as many surgeons across the globe as possible. We also want to provide our customers the most robust “tool kit” of products that complement one another. Solving challenging patient sub-sets requires an extraordinary determination and commitment to excellence. This is very personal to me; I suffered a rotator cuff tear and repair surgery years ago. I can assure you that no one is more passionate in wanting to provide a treatment that can help patients feel better sooner and ultimately, return to their normal routine quicker post-surgery.


What is your leadership style like?

My leadership philosophy is actually quite simple – present a powerful but realistic vision, set very clear expectations, always deliver candid feedback and most importantly–be transparent no matter what the ‘crisis’ or challenge presents. I have been fortunate to have spent the past 8 years recruiting, training and leading dynamic global commercial operation teams. These teams drive adoption utilizing disruptive technology to provide superior patient outcomes. The people that have accepted my invitation on this crazy journey fully understand that the standard we set is to be the best. The standard never wavers. It is critical to set high standards so people know what you are holding them accountable to – and approaching this from a servant leader perspective. My end goal is to always accomplish the mission at hand but also to mold and develop our employees. I want them to win personally. I am passionate about helping others ‘get what they want’. For example, the entire biologics leadership team was promoted from within. I have a sacred responsibility to deliver incremental revenue growth quarter over quarter, year over year. I am also responsible for coaching, mentoring and developing our team. Winning is much more than delivering revenue growth and profit. I win when my team grows both personally and professionally. It’s a satisfaction you cannot achieve as an individual contributor and it’s the single greatest motivating force in my life.


What have been some of your key achievements with Rotation Medical and in your previous positions?

I have been fortunate to be a part of some exciting product launches that have changed the standard of care. Early in my career, I was part of the Cordis Cardiology (Johnson& Johnson) Cypher Drug Eluting stent launch. It was the first product in the history of Johnson & Johnson to generate over $1 billion in revenue in its first year on the market. In fact, the product was so successful, it actually eclipsed that mark in less than 8 months!  However, the launch also taught me many critical lessons centered on the importance of supply chain, customer service and establishing proper expectations. I would like to think that I became a better overall businessman from the lessons learned. The next chapter of my career introduced me to the dynamic world of venture capital-backed businesses. There is nothing more exhilarating than delivering a quarterly results report to a board of directors that have their firm’s capital invested in your company. Arstasis had many angel investors which made it even more personal! It was also the first time I ever recruited and built a national sales team. Overcoming an early FDA recall was certainly something that taught me a lot about resilience and team work. I also learned that medical device start-ups require an even greater sense of urgency and intense work ethic than anything I had ever experienced. More recently, the success at Rotation Medical included exceeding sales quota and doubling sales revenue 14 consecutive quarters. The thing I am most proud of, however, is promoting all 5 sales directors from within our sales organization. There is nothing better than rewarding ‘homegrown’ talent!  We also enjoyed an unprecedented low attrition rate. People we recruited joined our team and wanted to stay. Finally, we were very consistent. We shied away from huge strategic swings. We were quick to pivot tactically when needed but never wavered from our core values and overall strategic approach of penetrating the market. We did not try and “be everything to everyone.”  We were very selective when targeting markets and surgeons. Our disciplined approach has successfully delivered an innovative way to treat rotator cuff disease.


How is AI changing the Medical Devices sector?

Artificial Intelligence related technology will continue to grow in 2018. Some experts are even predicting a ‘huge jump’. The opportunity is clearly enormous. The three specific categories I predict continued growth and investment center around the management of chronic diseases, medical imaging and integrating with the Internet of Things (IoT). Current examples currently available are the automated insulin delivery for diabetic patients, CT scans for liver and kidney lesions and the continuous monitoring of patients in critical condition. Other areas that should see huge investment and opportunity are supply chain management and overall operational efficiency, customer service and security/risk. These few examples barely scratch the surface of the overall impact that AI will have in the future.


How will your market look in 3 years?

This market will continue to grow with continued innovation of disruptive technology like the Regeneten bio-inductive implant. I read a report recently that predicted this space (orthopedic devices) to rank third in sales in the entire global medical technology space by 2020! Specific examples include Robotic surgeries that involve fewer and smaller incisions and potentially reduce postoperative care, ortho-biologic technologies that accelerate the healing process (near and dear to me obviously), smart sensor-enabled technologies and implants that provide surgeons real time information during surgery and postoperative evaluation afterwards. Other examples include 3D printing technology for patient specific solutions. Most people are surprised when they learn that the R&D team at Rotation Medical invested in a 3D machine that was instrumental to our product design success. Finally, further innovation in diagnostic and surgical imaging will help surgeons to better evaluate, plan and execute surgeries.


You recently celebrated your 20th year in the medical device industry – what excites you about being part of it? 

It has been a wild and amazing ride for sure! I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to develop so many genuine and meaningful relationships with my colleagues and customers. My parting shot is for all of us involved in this incredible space to remember that our chosen profession is different than other lucrative careers. We have to be our best version of ourselves every single day. Our employees and customers deserve it but more importantly, our patients deserve the best care from all of us. We are a team and we should always remember that regardless if we are in the OR supporting cases or the board room securing financial resources, to continue to innovate and drive even better patient outcomes.



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